What Does It Mean to “Bring Your Business Online” During Shelter in Home Era?

How we can create solutions during this crisis.

For those who have accepted that we have arrived at that delineating moment in which business as we know it will not-and-cannot proceed the same, we must consider how business owners will adapt. For those who view the impacts of COVID-19 as a temporary setback, the concern remains: how will business owners pivot or leverage their services to stay in the game? As we shelter in-home, we have witnessed business owners scurry to bring their business online. But what does this mean? 

In a roundtable discussion among business owners from various industries and business types representing different national economies–the United States, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil, the consensus revealed a call for action towards collaboration, and a deep human need for an economy that’s based on sharing resources and one that prioritizes the most essential: community and human connection.

What started off as an inquiry about pivoting online concluded with a deeper inquiry about our responsibility as business owners, to help shape an economy that centers human value.  

For business owners and companies who have already had the resources and technical know-how, this recent global order to “Shelter in Home” was the moment to seize, the tipping point to “bring their business online”, and the opportunity to accelerate their digital transition. 

Businesses whose basis for operations revolve around communicating with a client, like offering life coaching, psychotherapy, consulting, or education found themselves canceling in-person meetings and shifting to web conferencing platforms like Zoom, GoToMeetings, (or dare I say, “Skype?”). Companies whose employees reported into an office building everyday made a rapid one-week turnaround to ensure employees were well-equipped to work remotely. 

Brick-and-mortar retail-based businesses now more than ever have access to well-developed digital infrastructures to push their sales online, if they so choose. Online retail platforms abound, from Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, EBay, (and dare I say “Amazon?”). Picking a payment processing platform is now as easy as choosing a milkshake flavor at your local McDonald’s. Business owners are, in essence, one click away from a commitment and opportunity into another realm of hustling their wares. 

How has Shelter in Home impacted your business?

The playbook for bringing a business online for these business types seems readily available and straightforward. Yet, we continued to unpack what it meant to bring our business online with the challenges (and/or opportunities) of standing out in a saturated online marketplace, showing up authentically, and engaging a community by churning consistent content. Businesses that already have a strong in-person following would have a walking start into an online business, but this could look entirely different for businesses who need to drum business up from scratch. And what about for localities whose civil infrastructure is not yet set up for “delivery”, or ease of distribution? What does a rebound look like for them? 

And of course, this inquiry doesn’t ring the same for business owners whose purpose and activities revolve solely on physical contact, in-person attendance, and physical labor. 

CryptoCurrency Business Owner from Colombia represented the general census of business owners who were present at the roundtable, namely business owners who were already operating within an online digital infrastructure and experienced minor or zero impact in the way they carried out their business, and who felt deeply fortunate to be positioned as such. He called to mind and expressed his concern for service-based businesses, like personal trainers, massage therapists, hairstylists, construction workers and others that have been pulled out of work as a non-essential. It brought to mind business owners around the world whose livelihoods depend on physical labor. It was unclear whether service/labor-based business owners were present on the call, but it benefits us all to keep the inquiry afloat: “what does it mean to ‘bring your business online’?” Further, what is our responsibility to support our circuit of business owners who are now set back?

Making it our business to help

The roundtable discussion morphed from, “what does it mean to ‘bring your business online?’” to “what does it mean to be a business, in the face of a crisis?” With Shelter in Home in place, how do we continue to leverage this well-developed digital infrastructure and pass those benefits on to businesses that won’t be able to rebound for some time? How can we help our communities? We are a generation and culture of business ownership that wants to operate under a different business paradigm. We want to ride this wave together and emerge together forming economic values that uphold human connection, health and wellness, and respect for our natural environment. Let’s leverage this moment as an opportunity to shape our economy. We aim towards collaborative economies and partnerships, and will make it our business to help. 

It’s on your hands to decide how you and your business will collaborate and help to create something new.

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